Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.


Anything For A Story
15,000 Feet Above Boulder City
by Brad Appleby

I drove to SkyDive Las Vegas at the Boulder City Airport planning to take photos for a story. I had no idea I was going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane from 15,000 feet. I met with Mike Hawkes, the owner, and he said, “How can you do a story about sky diving without taking a jump?” Anything for a story!

My SkyDive Las Vegas adventure started in the briefing room, where me and my fellow novice sky divers were taught everything we needed to know about skydiving. This included watching a video and signing some paperwork. We also practiced the banana (the way you bend your body to the shape of a banana) and a yell (so you remember to breath) to aid in our dive. After the briefing, we suited up with a harness, pads, helmet, gloves and goggles. It actually looked like we knew what we were doing! A last chance for questions before it was time to go. We walked outside to watch the group ahead of us make their jump. From the east appeared a small white dot, “The Plane,” and soon we saw the first jumper fall out of the plane from 15,000 feet or about 3 miles up, followed by the rest of the group. At this point we questioned ourselves, “Why?” But after the group landed we felt better. Then a call came over the PA for our group. This is where our story would have ended if not for Mike.

My assigned Jump Master, Brent, checked over my gear and we headed for the airplane and climbed in. I felt better once Brent hooked up his harness to mine. We novices do a tandem jump, which means that we and an assigned Jump Master share the same parachute. Before we knew it we were off the ground. We saw many points of interest on the way up such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Eldorado Valley and Boulder City. The mood was carefree and intense at the same time. Very soon I watched the first jumpers kneel at the door and, one by one, tumble from the plane. After each jumper exited, the plane lifted up a little because of the weight loss to the aircraft. I started to wonder how I would feel when I got closer to the door. Will I panic…Will I freeze… Will I get sick… Then I was next. At the plane door, I looked at the horizon first, then forward to the plane’s wing, the engine, then aft to the tail. Why were we waiting? Were we stuck in the door? Just as I looked down I found myself tumbling through the sky. In just a few seconds Brent tapped my shoulder to signal for me to put my arms out and go into the “banana position.”

Then the freefall. Total freedom. The only time in life there are no walls, no ceilings, no floor. We rotated around to view Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Colorado River… four states at once. As I fell at a rate of 120 MPH, it felt like time had stopped. There was no feeling of falling… just flying! I dreamt of flying as a kid, and this was how it really felt. I have flown in F-15 and F-16 aircraft in the military, and I used to think that was flying.

Just as I was feeling comfortable with the freefall, I suddenly felt like I was a carrot being pulled out of the ground; something pulled us back up into the air. The parachute opened and we went from lying on our bellies to hanging upright with our feet pointing towards the ground.

The jump turned into a whole new world of adventure, like standing on air, hanging in mid-air and looking at the world. I saw the other jumpers and we flew right over the top of one of them. It came time for me to control the parachute. The new parachutes have two controls to steer them, pull the right lever to turn right and the left to turn left. So I pulled the right one down and the left one up and started to spin down.

I watched the other jumpers land and I was the last one to come in. As we got near the landing area Brent pulled both control levers at the same time to slow down our speed for a soft landing. As I stood there looking into the sky thinking about what had just happened, Mike came out to greet us. I have to say he was right. It is hard to tell a story about skydiving until you try it for yourself. This experience is now at the top of my list of greatest adventures. I wrote in the log where people from all over the world sign their name and comments, and I only put one word... WOW!

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